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Senate summons Defence Minister over arrest of Nigerians by Cameroonian soldiers

The Senate has summoned the Minister of Defence, Brig–Gen. Mansur Dan–Ali (retd), to brief it on why Cameroonian soldiers were able to enter Nigeria and…

The Senate has summoned the Minister of Defence, BrigGen. Mansur DanAli (retd), to brief it on why Cameroonian soldiers were able to enter Nigeria and arrested some citizens.

The upper chamber also urged the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geoffrey Onyeama, to urgently liaise with his Cameroonian counterpart to secure the release of the Nigerians.

It also called for increased military presence in the NigeriaCameroon border and to intensify patrol in the area to prevent further acts of trespass by Cameroon soldiers.

The call followed a motion on “Influx of refugees from the Republic of Cameroon to some border communities in Cross River and its attendant security fallout” sponsored by Sen. John Enoh (APC-Cross River).

Leading debate on the motion, Eno alleged that over 80 Cameroonian soldiers with various weapons crossed the international border of the DanareDaddi/Danre-Bodom axis and abducted five Nigerians.

He described it as “calculated assault and offence’’ from the Cameroonian military on Nigeria and an outright defiance of Nigeria’s territorial sovereignty.

The lawmaker expressed worry that “the current situation faced by the refugees and host border communities, if not tackled urgently may result in outbreak of epidemic and serious humanitarian crisis.

“The current agitation for the independence of Southern Cameroon has caused influx of refugees to some border communities in Cross River and over 6,000 refugees are currently squatting at Obanliku, Boki, Etung and Ikom Local Government Areas”.

Enoh disclosed that United Nations Human Rights Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) had on Dec. 17, 2017 biometrically registered 10, 000 arrivals in remote areas of Cross River and indicated that thousands more were awaiting registration.

He expressed concern that “most of the refugees are ill and lack basic needs while some are expectant mothers without medical care’’.

In his contribution, Sen. Shehu Sani (APC-Kaduna) noted that invasion by Cameroonian gendarmes to Nigeria was caused by the tension, violence and conflict in Southern Cameroon.

He, however, stressed the need for the Federal Government to act fast with a view to protecting lives and property of Nigerians in the border towns.

Sani said “Nigeria cannot pretend that there is no problem within our borders”.

He expressed surprise at the audacity of the Cameroonian soldiers in trespassing into Nigerian territory.

The lawmaker called on African Union (AU), Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) and other relevant continental bodies to wade into the crisis in Southern Cameroon before it got worse.

Also speaking, Sen. Jibrin Barau (APC-Kano) said though invasion by the foreigners was bad, he cautioned that the National Assembly could not intervene on the matter because Cameroon was a sovereign nation.

Similarly, Sen. Sam Egwu (PDP-Ebonyi) said Nigerian territorial integrity had been violated by the action of gendarmes, and urged the Senate to summon Defence Minister to brief it on the issue.

The resolutions were unanimously adopted by the lawmakers after a voice vote called by President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki. (NAN)

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